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AG: Portland officer justified in shooting Veazie man

Posted Nov. 18, 2011, at 3:01 p.m.
Last modified Nov. 18, 2011, at 5:21 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s attorney general says a Portland police officer was justified in using deadly force when he fired two shots at a Veazie man who drove off wildly and nearly hit two officers after ignoring commands to get out of his car.

A report released Friday stated that it was reasonable for Officer Robert Miller to fire at Jonathan Mitchell, 29, of Veazie to protect himself and another officer who was with him while they were attempting to arrest Miller following a high-speed chase.

“Attorney General William J. Schneider has concluded that at the time shots were fired at Mr. Mitchell by Officer Miller, it was reasonable for Officer Miller to believe that deadly force was immediately threatened against him and Officer [David] Schertz,” the report states, “and it was reasonable for Officer Miller to believe that it was necessary for him to use deadly force to protect himself and Officer Schertz from the imminent threat of deadly force posed against them by Mr. Mitchell’s actions.”

Police said Mitchell refused to stop when police tried to pull him over on April 10 after his estranged wife called police in the early morning hours in April to report that he had unlawfully entered her apartment.

Mitchell had broken into his estranged wife’s apartment at 94 Allen Ave. and refused to leave until she picked up the phone at around 4:40 a.m. Sunday to call 911, he said. Mitchell left in a black Volkswagen Jetta covered with bumper stickers and was spotted minutes later by Miller on Washington Avenue.

Miller was joined by Officer David Schertz, who followed Mitchell down Washington, then Veranda Street and then to Fairfield Street, a short, dead-end street, where they found the Jetta stopped.

“Officers Miller and Schertz approached the vehicle in an attempt to take Mitchell into custody,” Police Chief James Craig said at the time of the shooting. “After refusing — based on our preliminary investigation — we believe Mitchell used his vehicle as a dangerous weapon in an attempt to escape.

“Officer Miller fired two rounds, striking Mitchell in the neck and shoulder,” he said.

After he was shot, Mitchell gunned the Jetta and sped away from the scene at a high rate of speed; he was last seen by the officers on Veranda Street, the chief said. Neither officer was injured in the incident, he said.

Police caught up with an injured Mitchell at around 6:20 a.m. after they found his car in the area of 150 Washington Ave. and located him in a nearby apartment.

Mitchell was taken into custody and transported to Maine Medical Center for treatment of the gunshot wounds.

Miller was placed on administrative leave after the incident, which is standard procedure after an officer if involved in a shooting.

Mitchell has a lengthy criminal record, according to prior court listings printed in the Bangor Daily News.

In the past decade, Mitchell has been convicted in Bangor courts of criminal mischief, theft, failing to stop for an officer, assault, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while under influence of intoxicants, violating condition of release, violating a protective order, using another’s license or identification as his own, keeping a dangerous dog and allowing a dog to be at large.

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